The Quran – Scientific Miracle or Mess?

How scientific is the Quran? A look at what the Quran says and does not say to find the true wisdom of its contents.

When a book is supposed to be the word of a god, it is only natural to assume it contains advanced wisdom as well as morality. This is especially true with the Quran since it in itself is claimed to be the greatest proof Islam has for being divine word and not just another religion. The following will examine what the Quran says, and if it is rational to assume it contains higher knowledge or the beliefs of the people of the time it was written.

Miracles of the Quran
Many Muslims claim that the Quran contains knowledge that science proved true only much later. There are entire websites devoted to this. The following, listed on the top of one of those websites, is typical of such claims:

39:5: He created the heavens and the earth truthfully. He rolls the night over the day, and rolls the day over the night…

Did you guess the scientific miracle of this verse? Muslims claim is proof that the Quran was describing the earth as round before science discovered this. There are several problems with this claim, apart from the fact that different people had in fact postulated that the earth was round well before the Quran was written.

  1. Muslims were not making this claim (or other claims of miracles in the Quran) until modern times when others proved beyond any doubt that the earth was round. In fact, this is true for all the supposed miracles of the Quran. There was never even the slightest assertion of what are now claimed to be miracles until science, almost exclusively outside of the Islamic world, made them.
  2. It never specifically states the earth is round. As with all the miracles of the Quran, it is necessary to make certain assumptions and use particular interpretations to reach conclusions about the meanings that were not made in the past.

The fact is that it is possible to take any book and find miracles with the right interpretations or assumptions. Nowhere in the Quran is there ever anything clearly stated that could not have been known at the time. While this in itself does not prove Islam is the word of a man, it does seem more than a little odd that a god would not want to give his followers clear proof that their religion was divine, especially when the penalty for belief is eternal torture. It would have been so easy to give great reassurance for believers and evidence for convincing others.

While the Quran does not contain any convincing miracles, there are a number of statements that show the kind of ignorance of science and superstition that would be expected from to come from a man of Muhammad’s time but not a god.

Scientific inaccuracies of the Quran
The following are examples in the Quran of statements that show every indication of being the thoughts of a medieval man.

One would think a god would have perfect knowledge of the heavens, but the Quran does not appear to indicate this is so.

There are different translations of this verse, but all of them make the same basic claims that the stars, light years away and in orbits, somehow are protecting the earth! How could that be when the light from the nearest star takes four years to reach earth (most much, much longer)? Has anyone ever seen these satans traveling through space and stars somehow interfering with them? Why would they go anywhere near stars when there is light years of distance between them?

Finally, why would a god describe the stars as lamps? If the Quran was to be proof of Islam’s divine origins, why not a more accurate description saying something along the lines that the stars were other suns incredible distances away?

67:5:   And We have (from of old) adorned the lowest heaven (sky) with lamps, and We have made such (Lamps as) missiles to drive away Satans… 

At the same time, the Quran calls the moon a light. As this is inaccurate as the moon only reflects light, why wouldn’t a god describe the moon in an accurate way?

10:5: It is He who made the sun to be a shining glory and
the moon to be a light…

Talk about the sun and the moon overtaking each other makes perfect sense from the perspective of the earth being in the center of the solar system with the other bodies revolving around it. However, from a heliocentric view, it sounds silly.

36:40: It is not for Sun  to overtake the moon, nor doth the night outstrip the day.   They float each in an orbit.

The Quran talks of seven heavens  [67:3, 71:15],. Muslims claim this is referring to the layers of the earth’s atmosphere (science does not say there are seven layers), and it also says the stars and moon are in these layers, which is nonsense since even the moon is far outside the earth’s atmosphere. Furthermore, it says the stars, many light years away, are in the lower heavens [67:5, 37:6, 41:12] with the moon being inside these heavens [71:16],. However, the moon is, in fact, practically touching the earth in astronomical terms while the stars are incredibly distant. The Quran is actually putting the stars closer! Regardless, it is silly to say a god would describe the stars as being anything but huge distances away, although a man of Muhammad’s time would.quran miracles

On top of all of this, the Quran says the moon and the sun are subject to the earth. While the moon does rotate the earth, it is very slowly moving away. Regardless, it is more than a little ridiculous to call the sun subject when it is far larger and the earth revolves around it.

37:6-8: And He has made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently perusing their courses; and the night and the day has He (also) made subject to you.

Getting back down to earth, what the Quran says about geology is hardly in line with what is taught in any textbook.

Calling the earth spread out like a carpet is insinuating that it is flat and not a very thoughtful way to describe a globe. In addition, mountains are caused by forces to include the collision of continental plates and magma rising up to the earth’s surface. They rise and fall over time, and they never are described as any kind of pegs in geology books.

15:19:   And the earth We have spread out (like a carpet); set thereon Mountains firm and immovable;  
78: 6-7:  Have We not made the earth as a wide expanse, And the mountains as pegs (anchor) ?

Having a roof over our heads
In what way could the sky be any kind of a roof? Why call it that and say something as silly as there are no supports for it? Again, this is the kind of commentary that would be expected from a man from Muhammad’s time without any kind of scientific education. However, there is no reason to assume a god would use such odd wording.

In addition, mountains do nothing to prevent earthquakes. In fact, mountainous areas tend to be the most prone to them and not the least.

21: 32:   And We have made the sky a roof withheld (from them).  Yet they turn away from its portents.  
31:10:    He hath created the heavens (Skies) without supports (pillars) that ye can see, and hath cast into the earth firm Mountains/Hills, so that it quake not with you; and He hath dispersed…..  
21: 32:  And We have made the sky ( heavens ) as  roof  (canopy)  well guarded…  
2: 22:  Who has made the earth your couch, And the heavens (Sky) your canopy 

Since the earth is round, the sun never really sets. Why would a god fail to make this clear and instead sound like a person with limited knowledge of what the planet actually looks like? Saying it sets in a muddy spring adds oddity to these inaccuracies.

18:86: Till, when he reached the setting-place of the sun, he found it setting in a muddy spring,
18:90:   Till, when he reached the rising-place of the Sun, he found it rising on a people for whom We had appointed no shelter from it.

Human reproduction and biology
Even with the very being Allah is supposed to have created, there seems to be a basic misunderstanding of how things work.

It was an ancient belief that embryos came from blood (as people saw the blood in the afterbirth), but this has no basis in science. Since the embryo is never a clot of blood or anything close to one, why would a god describe them in that way?

96:2: Created man, out of a mere clot of congealed blood    

The Quran also describes human reproduction like this:

86.6: He is created of water pouring forth,
86.7: Coming from between the back and the ribs.

No doctor would describe male sperm as anything like water (or blood as in some translations) and it certainly does not come from between the back and the ribs. If the Quran is the word of an all-knowing god, why wouldn’t he simply give an accurate description of the sperm and egg coming together? There is nothing about reproduction in the Quran that advanced human knowledge and, in fact, everything it said set it back.

This way the Quran explains human reproduction is discussed more here.

51:49: And all things We have created by pairs, that haply ye may reflect. 

While those in Muhammad’s time could not be expected to know of asexual reproduction, didn’t Allah? Why say something that is clearly false? See more on this question here.

Talking ants
While ants do have basic forms of communication using chemical signals, it seems a little unscientific to say they would recognize and talk of Solomon!

27.18: At length, when they came to a (lowly) valley of ants, one of the ants said: “O ye ants, get into your habitations, lest Solomon and his hosts crush you (under foot) without knowing it.

Even on something as basic as math, the Quran shows the kinds of errors typical of flawed human minds that would not be expected from a divine mind.

In the Quran, the heavens and earth are said to have been created in six days 7:54, 10:3, 11:7, 25:29). There are problems with this. First of all, science says that the earth and its solar system formed billions of years after the big bang. Therefore, saying the heavens and earth were formed at the same time is a gross inaccuracy.

In addition, why would a god say six days when it was, in fact, billions of years? If there was some alternative way of measuring years, why not clearly state that?

Finally, why is the earth, nothing more than a tiny speck of dust on a cosmic scale, taking as much time as the rest of the universe!?

Even overlooking those errors, there is a math problem.

41:9: Is it that ye Deny Him who created the earth in TWO days?…  
41:10: He set on the (earth). Mountains standing firm, high above it, and bestowed blessings on the earth, and measured therein all things to give them nourishment in due proportion, in FOUR days…  
41:12: So He completed them as seven firmaments in TWO days and…

1st grade math points out a problem here: 2(for earth) + 4(for nourishment) + 2(for heavens) = 8 NOT 6.

Supernatural beings among us!
Another less than scientific part of the Quran is its reference to jinn. These can be roughly translated as genies and are supposed to be everywhere and take an interest in human affairs, even to the point of having sex with women. More details on them in jinn in Islam.

For a book that is supposed to be the proof of a divine plan to save people from the most horrific eternal torture imaginable, Allah did not do a very good job of putting any knowledge into it that clearly would have to have come from a higher source. In fact, never has any kind of scientific discovery been credited to the Quran since it was created. On top of that, much of what it says gives every indication of being the kind of thinking of a man of Muhammad’s time.

A book by a god could have said so many amazing, or at least useful, things. That would only make sense if it was in itself a form of divine truth. From germ theory to dark energy, there is so much left unsaid, while much of what is said has to be defended with translation (see translating the Quran) and other excuses.

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Faith can be a very dangerous thing if not backed up by evidence. Question everything and do not blindly follow. Certainty does not necessitate truth. If your God is almighty, he can certainly stand up to human questioning.

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